The Neverwinter Progression (Pay)Wall

Vigilance TasksFor most people Neverwinter’s Module 6: Elemental Evil is all about bugs and the lack of balance, but my biggest issue so far is how they’ve silently thrown a whole lot of progression barriers towards the players. It already starts with leveling to 70, because the change from daily to hourly quests is huge. In former Modules, you were able to progress simultaneously with a lot of chars by accumulating campaign quests over a week and then bulk completing them. They already nerfed that strategy somewhat in Module 5: Rise of Tiamat, because the quests appearing each day is no longer set but RNG based. You are not guaranteed to get a full set of quests in a given time.
In Elemental Evil though, you can no longer gather quests, because you are limited to four at any given time, meaning you have to gather and complete them instantly. You also can not progress at your own speed like in the 0-60 areas, because it can happen that you run out of Vigilance Tasks in an area. The devs are forcefully delaying progress.

Dungeoneering? The Delves event has been reworked so that you get raw Astral Diamonds out of the chest that can only be opened for free once each day. More keys have to be bought, which devalues the 3k RADs + whatever else comes out off the chest. The special chests in the T1 dungeons (Valindra’s Tower, Malabog’s Castle, Lair of Lostmauth) are even more expensive (50 ZEN or 20k ADs depending on type) and you need to farm campaign currency for some of them.
You get a fair amount of Element Seals running dungeons, but the Protector Seals are hard to come by. You are able to get 6 per run, two per boss and four from the daily chest. Completing T2s will earn you a massive 40 from the Cache of the Protector, but also only once per day.
It’s obvious the most efficient way to progress is to run exactly one dungeon per day. Get the free chest, the free Cache and move to another char / other tasks. I don’t know why people are doing farm runs for the Seals. It’s effing annoying and not really worth the time for six free Seals. In Module 5 you could still work the Delves event and get additional chests for free, but now you need to buy keys for AD to upgrade the efficiency of your runs and get ten Seals.

The main story are Refining Points though. While the described delay of getting your gear is annoying, a month or two until you have it is actually not too bad and unless you absolutely want the best of the best, upgrading the gear with the Black Ice Profession is not even needed. What separates the good and the elite are solely enchantment and artifact levels, so the only PVE endgame is the grind for RP. The latest example of the progression barrier in that area is the nerf to the Dragon Hoard enchantments.

http://nw-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?923051-Elemental-Evil-Preview-Patch-Notes-NW-45-20150416c-8/page7&p=10871511&viewfull=1#post10871511

There is a mechanic on these items to limit how often and how much they can drop each day. A normal game session for a day should not be impacted.

We have seen players use them heavily to just farm all day with bots and this was one of the valves we closed to that behavior.

First of all: Botting antimeasure my ass. Yes, Neverwinter has a botting problem, but that’s not what this change was all about. It’s about controlling how much RP players are able to get each day. The handling of the situation indicated that the nerf was intended anyway. Don’t get fooled by “we can not respond to everything”. They are selective and ignoring dozens of pages and complaints all over the official message board is normally a sign of an undocumented nerf working as intended (I suppose the official PR would be that they don’t usually talk about their ways of dealing with bots…). Maybe it’s a case of Hanlon’s razor, but if they really wanted to target bots, they could have adjusted the functionality of the enchants. We know the enchants can work differently depending on the content they are used in (Foundry / open world), so why not leave the Dragon Hoards intact in group content that is untouchable for bots?

Progression in Neverwinter
Visualized (daily) progression in Neverwinter

It has been a long wish from the playerbase to make playing the game more rewarding in terms of RP (40-page thread incoming, only one of many), instead the latest addition was a subtraction again. An endgame session (farm with Utility Enchants and run Draconic Heralds) was already pretty dull in Neverwinter and has further been nerfed. I’m really intrigued how much RPs I’ll be eventually able to get on my experimental lowbie char, but one might suspect it’s not nearly enough to get a sense of progression. Even leaving the amount of RP you can get out of the discussion, the ways of acquiring them are boring as hell. Yes, mindlessly zerging down mobs and Heralds in the Well of Dragons is better than running the new ultra-hard T2 content. Does that make any sense? And the cure to the pain is throwing ADs at the game. The only substantial RP dropping in T1s for example come from the Special Chests that cost AD and ZEN.

To sum it up: Once you hit a certain threshold (Dragon Hoards have run out of procs for the day, Cache earned, Daily Chest openend), you are getting even less return for additional time invested this module. This most certainly benefits casual players, but also serves as an artificial barrier. It’s obvious the game design doesn’t want you to progress at your own pace, but rather speed up the process by spending money.

No matter whether you already want to call it pay to win or would settle for a more forgiving term like pay to accelerate, it is an annoying trend. Especially considering that this game still lacks sufficient raid content.

j0Shi

j0Shi

j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

6 thoughts on “The Neverwinter Progression (Pay)Wall

  • Avatar
    May 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm
    Permalink

    The leadership AD grind is no longer as good as it once was, also the 21-25 chest are lacking when it comes to drops. You essentially get the new elemental components most of the time, and while there is a chance to get a unified element, the price is steadily crashing towards being less valuable like dragon eggs.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm
    Permalink

    In my opinion, there is another pay wall between the paying for coal-ward players who have their perfect enchants and rank 10/12s an the players who haven’t spend any money (or spend it somewhere else). In mod 6 ( but already in mod 5) this paywall became more important than ever with the addition of hard content, where everything is about min-maxing. The well geared players will only accept to play with other well geared players and therefore exclude themselves from the low geared players (with their lesser enchants and rank 6s ) who would desperatly need the help of the better ones to complete those dungeons. This results in no fun for the lower geared players who struggle to complete dungeons and cry for partually unnecessary nerfes on the forums.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 10, 2015 at 6:59 pm
    Permalink

    While your posts usually have been very informative and had good reasoning, this one looks just like a hatespeech driven by emotion. Im disappointed. There is much to say about this topic, so much that im open to discuss it at any time Jasmin@blackyluke or preferably “theblackyluke” on skype.

    Reply
    • j0Shi
      May 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm
      Permalink

      Hey, Jasmin. Thanks for your feedback. I just think the DH nerf is in line with a series of changes to stall progress in various areas of the game. It’s been a development you can’t deny.
      Every game needs to make money, but approaches are different and Neverwinter chose to be pay to accelerate.
      Catch me ingame @j0shi82 whenever, you are also very welcomed to publish your own view in a blog article here.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    May 11, 2015 at 2:41 am
    Permalink

    This is the downside to the ‘Free to play’ structure, it literally will impact the underlying gameplay in every way as long as you play it.

    My biggest problem with Cryptic’s model however is their constant desire to poison the gameplay experience and sell you the antidote.

    Unlike other free to play games that focus their pay model on asthetics alone and/or extra characters, Neverwinter makes it’s money through pay to win structures and selling solutions to problems they deliberately create in game (bags, mounts, enchants etc).

    There’s a constant war between the playerbase and developers on how the gamers can minimalise their investment and how Cryptic can maximise their returns.

    This is a fundamental failing of the entire game as Cryptic will FOREVER be chasing post install dollars, no matter what the cost.

    They ride a fine line between driving players away in frustration and feeding just enough tidbits to keep them coming back for more.

    If Cryptic took Neverwinter to a buy to play model + a cash shop for asthetics ALONE, it would do a LOT more for the game long term IMHO.

    Instead, most people use Neverwinter as the MMO experience to tie them over until something better comes along.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 13, 2015 at 11:32 am
    Permalink

    Leadership AD is actually not bad for very little effort once you get the levelling caught up again (and 20-25 is very quick compared to 18-20). I had to obsessively rotate tasks to cap it daily before, whereas I do not bad now even if I only bother rotating tasks once daily.
    The coffer drops favoring elemental resources is an acknowledged bug. We’ll see what the loot table really meant to be like when that gets patched this week.
    Drop rates for wards (both kinds) in celestial coin coffers seem to have been subtly buffed, though my sample size was small.
    I had enough thaumaturgic stones from Leadership over the last month to make one Perfect enchant into a Transcendent during double refinement. I recognize that may be slower progress than many other players want or expect, but it felt reasonable to me.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.